Making appropriate food choices for your baby during the first year of life is very important. More growth occurs during the first year than at any other time in your child’s life. We encourage you to feed your baby a variety of healthy foods at the proper time. Kicking off good eating habits at this early stage will help set healthy eating patterns for life.
Do not start solid foods unless you are advised to do so by your child’s doctor. When your child is able to sit without help and grab things to put in his mouth, usually around 4-5 months, it is time to introduce solid foods.
- Breast milk or infant formula gives your baby all that he/she needs to grow.
- Your baby is not physically ready to eat solid foods due to a reflex that enables him to swallow only liquid foods. The reflex causes the infant to automatically push solid food out of his mouth with his tongue.
- Feeding your baby solid food too early may lead to overfeeding and excessive weight gain.
- As a general rule, solid foods do not help babies sleep through the night.
- Healthy infants usually require little or no extra water, except in very hot weather.
As an infant reaches 4 – 6 months of age, nutrient needs become greater than human milk or formula can provide. Supplemental food will need to be introduced to satisfy your infant’s appetite and for growth. Two indicators that your infant is ready for solid foods include the ability to hold his head up without support and disappearance of the reflex that causes him/her to automatically push solid food out of his mouth. Commercial infant rice cereal is generally recommended as an infant’s first food, as it is easy to digest, high in iron and an unlikely allergen.
At 8-10 months your baby is developing the ability to chew and swallow foods with varying textures. This is challenging your baby’s brain with new sensory experiences. Try things like chunky vegetable and fruit purees; small finger foods, egg yolks and dairy.
At 10-12 months all textures; your baby is able to chew and swallow almost everything, however, be certain that pieces are small and meats are tender.
A helpful tip is to give your baby one new food at a time – not mixtures. Give the new food for 3-5 days before adding another new food. Adding new foods individually and gradually is important so that symptoms of an allergy or food intolerance (skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, or wheezing) can be easily identified and the offending food avoided. Knowing which foods are right can be overwhelming at first, but don’t worry – we will help you become a “foodie” wiz in no time. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.
(Some information provided by The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters).